The Hillsboro boys’ basketball team finally won a tight game, 58-49, to defeat Hays-Thomas More Prep, Saturday for fifth place in the Trojan Classic Tournament.
Things looked bleak for Hillsboro Trojans at the end of the second quarter. The Trojans only scored six points in the period. The score was 14-13 Hillsboro with 5:04 left in the half. Tyler Proffitt hit two free throws for Hillsboro to make the score 17-16, but then the Trojans went on a 3-minute scoring drought including four consecutive turnovers to trail 27-19 at halftime. The Trojans had committed 17 turnovers in the first half.
“We were just playing too fast on offense,” head coach Darrel Knoll said.
With a considerable effort from Hillsboro point guard Brett Weinbrenner, the game turned around in the thrid quarter. Knoll said Weinbrenner gained control of the offense and slowed down the pace. The Trojans only committed four turnovers in the second half.
Weinbrenner also started looking for his own shot. He started the third quarter with a quick jumper, one dribble away from the 3-point line. He helped the Trojans increase pressure on defense. Hillsboro recorded 13 steals in the game. In transition, Weinbrenner recorded consecutive assists in the quarter, the first to Micah Allen with a pass across the paint. The second went to Josh Wiebe between multiple defenders on the near side of the court.
Weinbrenner ended the quarter with a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Trojans trailed 36-34.
“It’s amazing what Brett does considering he hardly ever comes out of the game,” Knoll said. “He D’s up full court.”
Weinbrenner tied the game at 37 with an and-1 layin. However, Hillsboro trailed 45-39 with 3 minutes, 55 seconds left in the game. Shaq Thiessen drilled a corner 3-pointer, off a drive-and-kick assist from Weinbrenner. Thiessen had 15 points in the game.
On the next Hillsboro possession, Weinbrenner knocked down a layup to put Hillsboro within two, 46-44. Following a TMP foul shot, Weinbrenner hit an and-1 layup, driving the opposite way off of a Wiebe ball screen and tying the game at 47.
“We used the ball screen well today,” Knoll said.
Thiessen and Wiebe recorded consecutive steals and layups on the next two TMP possessions to put Hillsboro up 51-47. Evan Ollenburger hit a layup and Hillsboro had the lead, 53-49, with 26.8 seconds left in the game.
Weinbrenner hit a free throw and Wiebe sealed the game with two made free throws. Weinbrenner was the leading scorer for Hillsboro with 21 points. He scored 14 of those points in the second half.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Knoll said. “It would have been easy, down five or six, to roll over.”
Weinbrenner thinks the victory might have lasting effects on the Trojans’ season.
“It feels good,” he said. “It gives us confidence that we can continue to do this.”
Thiessen had his best scoring night of the season Friday against Goodland, a 67-38 Hillsboro victory.
Thiessen had 25 points after starting the game on the bench. It was not just that he scored — he hit shots with variety and efficiency.
Just in the first half he hit multiple layups in transition, but also knocked down two more difficult shots — a floater over a defender and a fadeaway bank shot — for 10 points in the half.
In the third, Thiessen started hitting from long range. He had three 3-pointers in the quarter and knocked down another to start the fourth. Thiessen has scored 20 or more points multiple times this season, but the difference on Friday was that he needed fewer shots to reach his total. He shot 11-for-17 from the field.
Knoll said Thiessen was shooting more in rhythm and in the flow of the offense.
“He was more patient in shot selection,” Knoll said. “Once he’s in rhythm, there’s no reason to take wildly contested shots.”
Thiessen said he was getting more open shots because the Trojans were attacking the basket and drawing multiple defenders.
“We moved well as a team today,” Thiessen said.
Also assisting Hillsboro’s scoring total was the pressure defense played by the team. The Trojans had numerouos opportunities in transition after picking up steals.
“A little more energy does wonders,” Knoll said of an increase of defensive intensity. “We were in a position to create more turnovers.”